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The inaugural edition of the Amsterdam photography fair focuses on emerging talent and first-time buyers

by Perrin Drumm
on 26 July 2012

Held in a former gasworks site built in Amsterdam in 1885, Unseen is a new photography fair that features new work by known photographers as well as work by an international group of emerging young talent. This September, more than 50 galleries from all over the world will entice both the seasoned collector and those buying their very first pieces. To provide some guidance for those who fall in the second category, Unseen will offer online courses and a new TV series designed to educate first-time buyers who might feel less intimated shopping in the €1,000 and under Unseen Collection.


For those looking to expand their collection, be sure to stop by The Michael Hoppen Gallery (UK) as he will be representing the celebrated self-taught photographer, Alex Prager. Her characteristically cinematic work has appeared in the pages of New York Magazine, The New York Times Magazine and i-D, among others. Most recently Prager was nominated for an Emmy Award for T Magazine's film series "The Touch of Evil." It's no surprise that Prager cites William Eggleston and Alfred Hitchcock as key influences. Indeed, her bright, surreal and perfectly composed images—like those in her Film Still series—are the ideal meeting point of those two masters.

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Two lesser-known photographers represented by Martin van Zomeren Gallery (NL) are the Dutch duo Maurice Scheltens and Liesbeth Abbenes, who have collaborated as Scheltens & Abbenes for the past decade. Given their longevity as well as a long list of accolades, it's surprising that they aren't more of a household name, though with their recent 2012 Infinity Award in Applied/Fashion/Advertising from the International Center for Photography, that might be about to change. ICP described their work as an "experiment with converting spatial dimensions into flat surfaces and an exploration of photography's potential for creating illusion."


Scheltens & Abbenes are particularly adept at arranging objects into compositions that are as captivating as they are meticulous. A group of perfume bottles becomes a candy-colored miniature sculpture for a fashion editorial and a selection of cheeses and cold cuts becomes a study in texture and form. Scheltens & Abbenes' work for Vitra is particularly spot on. By confining a collection of the design brand's minimal offerings within a small square, they not only present a compelling visual story that plays with our sense of scale and perspective, but they also capture Vitra and Morisson's entire aesthetic.

The first edition of Unseen runs 19-23 September 2012 at Amsterdam's Westergasfabriek. Visit the fair website for more information.

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